At St Mary’s RC Primary School, the EYFS curriculum is designed to recognise the spectrum of our children’s prior learning and experiences. We aim to provide first-hand learning opportunities, allow the children to develop interpersonal skills, and to build children’s resilience in order for them to become creative, critical thinkers. Our thematic curriculum is designed to engage children through the exploration of the world around them and through their own interests to create inquisitive, independent learners with a love of learning, which will carry them through their school life at St. Mary’s.
We place strong emphasis on the religious, spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all of our pupils. Our Catholic school community has identified a clear set of values that underpin expectations for behaviour for all members of our school family. Every child is recognised as a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome the differences within St. Mary’s school community.
The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values. We constantly provide enhancement opportunities to engage inquisitive minds and believe that childhood should be a happy, investigative and enquiring time in our lives where there are no limits to curiosity and there is a thirst for new experiences and knowledge. Practitioners use formative assessment (through observation and interaction) to establish pupil interests, to find levels of attainment, to make timely interventions and to create next steps in learning.
The St Mary’s EYFS curriculum is designed to develop the Characteristics of Effective Learning:
- Creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.
- Active learning – children keep on trying if they encounter difficulties and enjoy their achievements.
- Playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’.
We use a Growth Mindset approach to promote positive attitudes to learning which reflect the values and skills needed to promote responsibility for learning and future success.
At St Mary’s School and within the EYFS curriculum, there is a great emphasis placed on Communication and Language. Children enter our setting with an ever increasing range of attainment in this area. Developing the language skills of our children runs throughout all of the teaching and learning activities throughout our setting, with an emphasis on effective communication and the development of vocabulary.
At St Mary’s School literacy is our driver, with reading seen as a ‘gateway’ subject providing pupils with the necessary tools to be successful in the other areas of learning. Therefore creating a reading culture, formed through a love of books and underpinned by the rigorous teaching of early literacy skills is central to our vision in EYFS.
At St Mary’s we recognise the importance of giving our children the best possible start to their education by planning and implementing teaching and learning opportunities that support them in reaching their potential. We know that our children enter the Nursery and Reception classes with varied life experiences and we aim to plan our teaching and learning accordingly to address this. We have high expectations of all children: we aim to close the gap as much as possible for those working below age related expectations to prepare them for Key Stage One.
The St Mary’s EYFS Curriculum is designed to engage all children by focusing on themes based on their common interests and the world around them. This helps us to ensure that all children make good progress from their starting points. The EYFS team have created long term plan based on a thematic approach, which stretches across all areas of learning to ensure an exciting, relevant, broad and balanced curriculum. Themes are introduced in nursery and revisited in the reception year, to allow consolidation, broadening and mastery of skills and knowledge. Communication and language and Literacy are at the heart at each of these themes: planning begins with a focus on high quality texts to excite and engage our young learners. The children will learn new skills, acquire new knowledge and demonstrate understanding through the areas of our EYFS curriculum:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Communication and Language
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
- Religious Education
Planning for our curriculum is designed to be flexible so that a child’s unique interests are supported. We recognise the use of clear, focused learning intentions as an effective tool in gaining intended learning outcomes. The thematic, objective-led planning is underpinned by the systematic teaching of the skills required for children to learn, creating the firm foundations for Key Stage One and beyond. Additionally, throughout our learning environment practitioners provide effective and timely adult interactions to ensure that learning is instantly captured and enhanced. These ‘in the moment’ observations and instant or planned next step activities are discussed in daily staff discussions and in our weekly planning meetings.
Our children in EYFS at St Mary’s experience a balance of adult-led and child-initiated activities in all curriculum areas throughout each week. By the time children are in Reception literacy, maths, and phonics are taught as carpet sessions on a daily basis, alongside other curriculum areas. Children take part in adult-led focus sessions throughout the week, which provide a balance across all curriculum areas. Every area of learning is viewed as invaluable and is celebrated. Strong emphasis is placed on the children’s learning and exploration in our indoor and outdoor learning environment. Resources provided and practitioner interactions aim to promote a ‘growth mindset’ in our children by developing their exploration, problem solving skills and resilience. All areas within the environment are continually enhanced to support this exploration and consolidation of learning.
Parents are valued as first educators and every effort is made to inform them of the EYFS curriculum whilst providing them with the tools to continue in school learning at home. Parents are also encouraged to inform school of their child’s interests and achievements at home as these are an essential part of each child’s learning journey. Strategies to include and inform parents include the use of our Tapestry app, curriculum workshops, ‘Stay and Learn’ sessions, communication via St. Mary’s website, parent meetings as well as daily informal conversation with members of our team. We work together to provide the best outcomes and create firm foundations for future learning for all of our children.